By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Africa is the next frontier for growth, innovation and social progress, South Africa’s President has told the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Addressing European lawmakers in Strazbourg, Cyril Ramaphosa said the African continent is blessed with abundant minerals, land, water and a young vibrant population that could trigger its progress.
“To realize this potential, the people of Africa must unite,” Ramaphosa said, adding: “Africa will continue to strengthen bonds of friendship and cooperation with the citizens of her sister continents.”
The president welcomed the EU’s support for Africa’s development through initiatives such as the European External Investment Plan, the Economic Partnership Agreement and the new Africa-European Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs.
“As we look to the future, we will continue to count on the strength of this partnership between our countries and our peoples.”
The South African leader also said Europe and Africa need to work together in developing sustainable and humane responses to the irregular migration.
He said irregular migration is a challenge which both continents have had to deal with in recent years.
Many African migrants from mostly war torn countries have died in the Mediterranean Sea as they attempt to reach Europe.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrian refugees and Africans have crossed to several European countries that are already burdened with their own social-economic challenges.
“We need to work together to address the root causes of irregular migration, which include poverty, inequality, unemployment, economic exclusion and competition for scarce resources,” he told parliamentarians.
Ramaphosa — who is on a working visit to France and Belgium — earlier held brief meetings with the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Udo Bullmann, the president of the Socialist and Democrats in the European Parliament.
Later on the day, he is expected to meet with the King of Belgium Philippe Léopold Louis Marie and the Prime Minister Charles Michel.